Chapter V: Esoteric interests
Word count: 1851
Time Taken: 2h 19
Jimmy's Grill shack was a rather easy place to find, it was located right in front of the school's west entrance and it's glowing neon sign was the first thing that anyone walking around would notice.
The building itself was small, but rather cozy, a red brick building with a central fireplace warming up the room which was rather cluttered with benches and tables. The smell of frying, grilling and wood filled the room, making my stomach gurgle even though it was still early for dinner.
I looked all around the room, searching for a familiar mop of black hair but Sean wasn't there yet. I walked up to the counter, ordered a cheeseburger trio and went to sit next to the fireplace, keeping an eye on the door for anyone coming in. After a few minutes, the guy at the counter called my order and I picked it up, munching on the crunchy fries one by one and watching the flow of students slowly coming in in small groups.
After about half an hour, the door opened and Sean walked inside, followed by two much smaller persons. He walked to the counter, ordered and only then spotted me.
"I wasn't sure if you had heard me." He said, sitting down in front of me, his coat still dripping from the deluge outside.
On his left, a pair of twins sat down. "Sophia, this is Mike and Julie, my siblings."
The both of them waved at me in unison and spoke. " 'Ello Soso!" They said at the same time before looking at each other and smiling.
The two of them, about ten years old or so, looked almost identical despite being fraternal twins, dressing the pair too, with similar hairstyles, cut short under the ears.
"So, you wanted to talk, right?"He said, snatching a few fries from my half-empty cabaret, his siblings doing the same. "Or did you just came here for the food?"
"Well, I saw your sketchbook, all the weird things it contained."
"You mean the journal bits and the monsters?" He said, sounding snarky. "Yet there be no derision in your speech. So you either think I'm serious or it's fiction. Well, I'm deadly serious about this stuff."
There was a bit of silence as I tried to find a way to formulate my question but he spoke faster.
"Why does it interest you anyhow?"
"Well... Something happened to me last night."
"You went into the woods didn't you?" He asked and I meekly nodded. "Bad idea, the folks around here avoid it even during the day, it's dangerous at night."
"I met a guy there, helped me get away from one of those dogs thing."
"Vampiric looking, black leather, quiet and mildly rude?" I nodded again. "That's Lucius, usually roams around the woods at night. Only one brave or stupid enough to do it. He usually hangs around the ol' church in the woods, 'was abandoned about eighty or so years ago. Common place for teens to drink, smoke, call up ghosts, that kind of things."
"So, what exactly is a Barghest?"
"It's a specter, takes the form of huge mangy dogs. They're rare outside of celtic or germanic culture. Things tend to appear in areas that are supportive of their culture; You don't see many Oni outside of Japan or Couatl away from central america." He said, getting up to get his own food as it was called.
"You've seen one, did you?" He asked.
"From pretty close too." I declared, unbuttoning my shirt and pulling it, showing him the scars. "It jumped me as I was walking outside, following something else."
"You saw something else?"
"Well, at first I thought it was a dream, everything was hazy and I could feel some kind of pulse through the wood's atmosphere. There was this figure, alabaster pale, slim and it's traits impossible to really make out. It was calling me..."
He was about to take a bite out of a burger but he stopped, putting it down. "First time I've heard of something like that happening."
"It was calling my name and it had opened my window somehow." He scratched his neck and looked sideways at his ear, trying to find something in his memory.
"They wait unable to sleep... not living not dead..." Michael said, his traits going a bit livid and his eyes widening. "Their father-mother will wake from his slumber... " he trailed off. "I heard it in a dreams."
I frowned about to say something to the kid, but Sean spoke before I did. "Michael has a lot of strange dreams, he's sensitive to what exist in this place."
"Can we go home?" Michael asked, now suddenly clinging to his sister tightly, his eyes darting around, as if looking for a threat that nobody could see. Meanwhile, his sister ran a hand in his hair while chomping down on fries.
"Oh, You big baby." She said.
Sean sighed and quickly finished his meal, almost swallowing it whole. "Alright, we're going. Sorry, Sophia, I'll see you at school tomorrow?"
"If you're out of detention." I said with a smirk.
I grabbed my own things and left the restaurant, going back into the perpetual rain that drowned out the dying light of the evening. Sean seemed to be a dead end for now, where could I find more info? It was then I remembered the bookstore I had seen on the way to our house.It was a good fifteen minutes away, but it was a good start so I went there, tightly clenching my umbrella and zipping my coat up to my chin.
The Devil's den, as it was charmingly called, was a small bookstore that stood alone on a street corner of Central and Aleister street, almost as if even the surrounding buildings didn't want to touch it themselves.
When I pushed the door, the noise of attached wind chimes came to my ears and it wasn't long until my nose and eyes were burned by the smoke of incense sticks burning in a miniature sand filled cauldron on the dark wood counter that occupied most of the left wall.
The right most wall was filled with book shelves, full of paperbacks and hardcovers books. Periodically interrupted by display cases filled with jewels, leather bound tome and knives.
Meanwhile, the back of the place proudly displayed an old battered wooden sign marked 'Ye olde apothecary.'
I carefully advanced, occasionally looking at the stuff that were on large velvet covered pedestals in the middle of the place.
There were three others in the room, one of them absently looking at the rows of books while the other discussed with a lady at the apothecary. From the back, a man with long dark hair, torn punk regalia and a spiked choker around his neck advanced toward me.
"What brings you here, young one? A budding interest in the dark arts, a fool's gambit or perhaps a need to feel different, breaking free from the religious mold?" He said, leaning against the counter and looking strait at me.
"Ehm, well... None of these really, I'm just looking for some information on mythology. That's a nice pentagram you have there..." I said, looking at the tattoos on his right arm. "You have anything on Barghest?"
He arched an eyebrow. "Perhaps there is something I have not heard about, you're the second person this week to inquire about them..."
"Was it a scottish guy?" I asked, and he nodded.
He walked toward the bookshelves and started looking for a book. As he did, I felt something brushing against my leg and saw that a big gray haired bobcat was there. I leaned down and pet the little beast as it purred softly.
"He's named Spike." A woman said, the one from the apothecary counter. "You're new here aren't you? I'm Maya, but everyone calls me Luna." She said with a smile. "I think he likes you."
Contrarily to the other guy, she looked much more normal, if a little retro, in flowing skirts and bright colored shirt where many beaded necklaces hung from her neck.
"Yeah, it's my first time here. I just moved into town. Do you recognize everyone who come in here?"
"Usually, yes. it's a small town and we have only so much regulars, usually that boy, Sean, his two friends, a handful of wiccans and teens looking for something edgy."
"Sean comes around often?"
"About twice every week, speaks with Raven here a lot, occasionally ask me to brew him some herb concoction. He mostly buys trinkets and gems." She said.
"There it is." The punk guy said, coming out of the other room. "Our last copy. I'm sure you'll find what you want in it. No fluff or magical thing, it's information and mythology." He handed me the book and I read the title. 'Encyclopedia Nocturnis: A guide to specters, ghouls, demons and all that roam the night.' It seemed rather promising, but the price was going to gouge the hell out of my allowance...
"Do need help with anything else?"
"Not really. I think I'll be alright."
I opened the book and quickly shifted through it's page, but my finger slipped and I stupidly cut myself on the paper.
"Ah hell..." I said, a drop of blood falling on the ground as I brought the bleeding finger to my lips. It didn't take long for Spike to come over and lick the blood off the floor. "That's kinda creepy..." I muttered to myself as I paid for the book with cash.
I returned home right after, running as to get out of the rain and darkness of the poorly light street strait away. When I came back home, dinner was already over, the parents were cuddling in the living room while Carl was busying himself in the den, a box of pencils and a stack of paper next to him.
"You're home late." Lewis remarked as he came down the stairs.
"I was out with a friend."
"A guy or a girl?" He asked, pausing in the stairs.
"What does it matter?"
"Well, you were always with guys back in the city. Although you never dated any of them..." He said. "Say, are you a lesbian?" He then asked tactlessly, making me choke on my own saliva.
"Well, that's a shame. Guys are assholes..." He said, shrugging and continuing his way.
"Woah! Don't just walk off." I said, turning around. He looked at me and I nodded toward the stairs.
"What is it?" He whispered to me once we were out of ear range.
"Why the heck did you think I was gay?"
"Well... You're kind of boyish, you always hang around dudes and never spoke to other girls." I kind of remained quiet a bit and he added. "Look, I'm cool with it if you are, Mum and dad too."
"Wait... Do they also think that I'm..."
"Oh joy..." I sighed, going into my room and shutting the door behind me.